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Why G7 Color is Not Enough

5 Jan, 2015

In October 2011, I wrote an article titled, “What’s all the Hoopla about G7?” for imageSource Magazine. The article introduced the concept and importance of adopting the G7 methodology for color printing and how it would be the next great color movement in our industry. As of today, we are in the middle of an industry wide G7 color transformation that is affecting not only traditional offset printers but also corporate in-plants and digital printing as a whole.

A Two Tier Color Sales Disadvantage

As the G7 methodology has swept through the digital printing industry many dealerships and manufacturers are beginning to find out just how little their staffs know about color printing and color management. The new G7 methodology is not an easy art to master. Many companies are looking into to getting at least one person on their staff certified as a G7 Expert and what they are finding is that without a strong base knowledge of how color management works they are unable to grasp the G7 concepts much less able to pass the expert certification test.

For those that are unable to grasp the advanced color knowledge of G7, they will first need to complete the Color Management Professional (CMP) certification to gain color theory and management skills. Even then until those skills are used real life they will not fully understand the idiosyncrasies of managing color. To put the color knowledge gap in perspective, in 1998 IKON Office Solutions launched the most advanced and only Macintosh certified color management course in our industry at least at that time, the Master Color Specialist certification (MCS). I went to work in that program in 1999 and since that time only one other advanced professional color certification was released. Through CompTIA the Color Imaging Professional (CIP) certification was created, for which I was a beta tester and subject matter expert (SME). If no one from your staff has achieved either of these certifications or the CMP from Idealliance, your sales teams are at a significant disadvantage when it come to selling production or graphic color hardware and services. Even major manufactures are realizing this and have begun to get their analyst CMP certified.

Closing the Color Disadvantage Gap

So how do you close the color equipment and services sales disadvantage? Simple get one or more of your staff enrolled in the CMP, and then fight your way into the G7 Expert pool. However, be forewarned it won’t be cheap. By the time you are done expect to invest over $30,000 is the person you choose. However, that $30,000 can be recovered in a few short months because having a G7 program in place not only increases the likelihood you will win deals but it will also transform your service revenue.

Your Customer’s Color Knowledge GAP

As the gap between those that know color and color management continues to widen so does the ‘Knowledge GAP’ of commercial printers and graphic artists. One of the major issues that has have never been solved in the printing industry is the lack of color management knowledge amongst graphic designers and digital press operators.  As an accredited professor I can attest to the fact that graphic design programs at the bachelor’s degree level do not typically require color management classes. They have no understanding of how to set up the Adobe Creative Suite or their color management systems to print high quality images and printed products. If many design degrees don’t require color management how qualified would you think self taught graphic designers and digital press operators actually know?

For example, the Adobe cloud based creative suite still comes defaulted to the SWOP color space. When this is mentioned to graphic designers the vast majority will have no idea what you are talking about or more importantly why it is important. SWOP stopped being the digital color printing standard in 2006, and was replaced by a much larger color space (GRACoL) specifically created for digital color printing whether computer to plate (CTP) or a laser digital press.

Color Management Education is Half the Answer

These changes in the color world are not learned in design programs. They are only gained through continuing education and a dedication to learning the professional practices of good color processing and management. If your support or service staff can’t answer these questions get them enrolled into a CMP course immediately.

  1. What is the difference between GRACoL and SWOP?
  2. What is G7 gray balance calibration and what are its benefits?
  3. What is a color conversion versus a color transformation?
  4. How do you set up and what is the importance of a color management system that controls color from computer screen to final output on a digital or offset press?
  5. How does toner/ink density affect the printing process?

Questions 3, 4, and 5 are basic questions that an MCS in 1998 would be able to answer. I am always amazed and you would be shocked at how many people in the imaging and printing industries cannot answer these simple questions, not even graphic artists and color press operators. If your production sales or support staff cannot answer these five simple questions you are loosing sales and wasting service call time on issues that would never arise if you educated your staff and customers on color process control.

Two Common Pitfalls

The first pitfall many companies make when increasing their color skills is the belief that once a person is certified they now have all the answers. This is far from the truth. Until the person gains real life experience they will not be able to think analytically or solve many color issues. After certification it will take one to two years of practical experience to truly become an expert and then they will need to continue learning as technology advances.

The second pitfall is to create a set of color procedures and expect their staff and customers to follow them blindly without understanding why the processes are important, how they work, and their benefits. Forcing a procedure on someone does nothing to change the way they think about managing color and therefore they will revert back to their bad practices. Introducing concepts such as G7 and color process control may fail without engaging someone who can teach your staff and/or customers the ‘Why’ of color management. Once the ‘Why’ is understood, then and only then will the ‘How’ and ‘What’ to do really be adopted. To bring your staff up to speed on the ‘Why’, ‘How’, and ‘What’ of color process control, I highly recommend hiring a G7 Expert consultant. Then let the G7 Expert suggest who has the understanding level to enroll in the CMP and eventually the G7 Expert certification.

Greg Buschman, MIS is a G7 Expert whose achievements are recognized internationally; as a keynote speaker, subject matter expert, and a CDIA+ certification writer who is currently an adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College, FL and an (OEM) imaging industry regional manager who can be reached in the Tampa Bay area at 727-742-5045.

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